Hastings Old Town is a quaint area found on the south east coast of England. It is a place full of history and charm. Despite it being 30 minutes from my boyfriend’s home town, I’d yet to visit until this Easter break. I’d been to Hastings before, but Hastings Old Town is a very different place (although actually geographically they are in the same place). The Old Town has a very local feel to it, with special events and festivals to celebrate most occasions. It was build up around the water and dates back hundreds of years. Hastings town itself is very rough and ready and receives a lot of bad press. The town centre looks just like most town centres of British towns and I’d never felt anything inspiring for me to visit Hastings more than once. The same could be said for the Old Town and due to my boyfriends appalling sell of it, I really wasn’t convinced I was worth the drive. His exact words were “you’ll really like it”, what was that even suppose to mean? Hopefully I can sell it better than he did, because it truly is a place worth visiting on the south east of England.
We arrived in Hastings Old Town and parked down by the aquarium under advice from frequent visitors (parking is easy to find down that end). I was quickly reminded this Easter weather wasn’t kind as I zipped my coat up for warmth and quickly regretted not wearing another layer of clothing. Despite the constant drizzled we set off in search of why I was going to like this place. Looking up, Hastings Old Town is surrounded by two hills, one to the east and one to the west. We were stood just below the east hill and couldn’t even seen the railway let alone the top of the hill. Making a mental note to come back on a better weather day – so my boyfriend could fulfil his offer of taking me up the United Kingdom’s steepest funicular railway. We started by exploring the net shops and boats which lined the road towards the centre of the Old Town.
Our two hours in Hastings Old Town was spent wandering the old streets in search of history, window shopping in the antique/thrift shops, eating chips and of course drinking. There are a vast range of pubs in Old Town and although I would have found the choice difficult my boyfriend’s dad knew just the place – they even brewed their own beer. First In Last Out is located up the high street and feels just like any good village pub should. They have music weekly, good beer and a lively atmosphere – even on Good Friday afternoon when we visited.
I did love Hastings Old Town but I’m not even sure I could sum up every reason why. Lets start with the shops, you wouldn’t come to Old Town for your typical high street chain stores or even for anything specific. Because Old Town is the kind of shopping mecca where you buy on impulse knowing it will be gone by next week. Each shop is unique and individual with plenty of character oozing from the inside out. I did plenty of window shopping in those two hours, until I saw the price tag of each item and had to leave it at just window shopping.
George Street (photographed above) was probably my favourite place in Old Town, closed to traffic and despite being a miserable and cold day was still littered with people. Along this street were many more shops but also some of the best looking cafes I’ve seen outside of Melbourne. Including the Hanushka Coffee Shop which was lined with rows and rows of bookshelves. Unfortunately a visit was off the cards because it was pretty full and our parking ticket was running out. Another reason to visit again for sure.
It wasn’t just the shops, cafes and pubs that had me in love with Hastings Old Town, it was also the streets and buildings. This town is famous for it’s history and the buildings are at the heart of that with some dating back to the 15th century. No matter where you looked or walked there was something different to look at, including the house shaped like a block of cheese (and coloured yellow). We never made it down to The Stade (Saxon for landing place) a shingle beach which has been the landing place for boats for years gone by. It is a beach harbour and on a sunny day I imagine would look impressive. The cliffs and coves around this area were also used for smuggling and it is possible to take a tour around these locations.
Hastings Old Town offers so much to see and do no matter the weather or day. I will certainly be back and I would highly recommend this quaint little town as a day trip from London.
Hastings is easily accessible by train or car from London and will take around two hours to get there. There are plenty of car parks in Old Town for parking, alternatively if you take the train it is a short walk from the station over to Old Town.
Have you been to Hastings Old Town? What did you think?